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Shakespeare and Company: a place of inspiration

Near Latin Quarter is a small used bookstore called Shakespeare and Company. Nikki told me that the place was owned by a relative of Walt Whitman. It was a place to get inspired...reminded me of going to Powell's Bookstore as a high school kid.

I love reading on the Kindle and iPad, but there is certainly something special about picking up a book and opening it.


Hello from Paris

It's past midnight here but just wanted to give you a quick update. Paris had been amazing thus far. I live with my friend Adam in an apartment that's five minutes from Notre Dame.

We have been working and sight-seeing a lot, with an impromptu trip to the Apple Store. My favorite part so far is speaking French to the locals...or at least trying to.

Shaking your head yes and pointing are universal.

More detailed updates soon, but here are a few photos.

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Medjugorje: simplicity, peace + tranquility

Our Lady of Medjugorje

It’s amazing that after a few days into my trip to Europe I already found what I was seeking. It was in a small town in Bosnia and Herzegovina called Medjugorje. There, was the apparition site of Our Lady of Medjagorje. My friend Vivian and I drove from Split, Croatia and crossed the border to Bosnia.

I was seeking peace, simplicity and tranquility in my life, and as we arrived to the site in the village, I knew it was on top of that hill. We hiked up to the hill…my heart beat heavily with anticipation. As I got to the top I saw the most beautiful woman ever…there she was, Our Lady of Medjugorje. There stood a statue of the Virgin Mary, depcited as described by the children who saw the apparition in 1981.

“She is 18 to 20 years old, slender and around 165 cm tall. Her face is long and oval with black hair. Her eyes are blue with delicate eye lashes and thin black eyebrows. She has a nice, little nose and rosy cheeks. She has beautiful reddish thin lips and her smile is more like some indescribable gentleness. It’s visible as if somehow under her skin.”

There at the shrine was a group of Italian pilgrims. To see in the eyes of these people was simply life-changing…tears of joy about their journey to this very sacred site (regardless of what people believe). At this site, there were no egos or selfishness, but a sense of humility and thankfulness.

I brought some rosaries up that Vivian bought from the gift shop, but they were unblessed. I’m glad I still remembered how to speak Italian and asked with my broken American accent, “Scusi, dove e padre?” which means “excuse me, where is the priest?” They quickly called for the priest to come over. He looked at me and I asked:

Ti benedirò questo rosari, padre? (Will you bless these rosaries, father?)

He replied, “Sarebbe il mio onore, mio figlio” (It would be my honor, my son)

It doesn’t matter what religion one is or what one believes or doesn’t believe, this was beautiful. This area was a convergence of cultures and people seeking the same thing: peace.

We sat on the hill for a few hours, just to witness what was in front of us: a statue accompanied by world travelers, looking over the horizon of the country.

I noticed an elderly Italian man, who could barely stand up, hitting the rocks with his cane. It’s a tradition to bring rocks back from Medjugorje. I realized what he was trying to do and ran over to him. Together we looked for stones that were big enough to break. I grabbed another stone and hit the other one to break it into small pieces. “Molto difficile da rompere,” he said, which means “very hard to break.” He gave me a hug and said “grazie mille.” We shared some tears of joy…two strangers who traveled to the same place…whose lives crossed paths.

This is what I was looking for: conversation with friends and strangers alike, as I seek peace, simplicity and tranquility.

Like the myth goes, I was able to stare directly at the sun. Believe it or not.


Split, Croatia: Kanye wishes he was Diocletian

Kanye West has marble conference tables. Diocletian has a freaking marble palace right on the Adriatic Sea. Diocletian - 1. Kanye West - 0. Thanks for playing.

My good friend Damon suggested I stop by Split when he found out I was going to Croatia. I am very glad he suggested it. It's a beautiful city for a getaway with a very rich history to it. It was really hard to not think about Assassin's Creed while walking through this ancient/medieval town. It's amazing to see how well designed things were centuries ago and have still withstood the test of time.

That's one thing I've really noticed about Europe. Design is life. Everything, from the chair, toilets and palaces have been considered design-wise. They have less space so have to make things more versatile.

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My friend Vivian and I went to see Diocletian's Palace and couldn't help but notice this cat, just laying there on a seat cushion, sleeping in the middle of a huge crown. Kitty cat don't give a sh*t what Diocletian thinks!

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We climbed up San Dominik's bell tower to get a better view of the city. Those who know me well are very aware that I'm terrified of heights. That said, I always love climbing churches because they usually offer the best view of the city...at least in Europe!

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When we got to the top we saw this:

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What do you think this sign means? I think it means "don't drop your red panties, ladies."

The quote of the trip was definitely from our waitress, who definitely has a sense of town pride. She first says "one day is not enough" and when she found out we drove here from Zagreb, here response was, "In Split, Zagreb is zero."

I am planning to take Damon back here so we can share experiences together.


Hello from Zagreb, Croatia

I officially spend about an hour in Paris. After landing in Charles de Gaulle International Airport, I immediately walked out the terminal to go in another one, heading to Croatia. I don't know much about Croatia except heard it's a very beautiful country with a lot of history. That was enough for me to go there.

It is so beautiful here. The people are very friendly and the air is so fresh with the smell of plants, flowers and other wildlife—probably the freshest air I've smelt in my life. Yes, that includes Washington State. I can't stop looking at the people, who vary from olive skinned and dark hair to tall and blonde.

Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, reminds me very much of Siena, Italy. The streets and architecture combined with the old men in Adidas track suits. The most beautiful thing about Zagreb though is the culture. At 4pm I realized that most of the city was outside at Cafe Bars having coffee, food and conversations. This went on all night. If I were back home people would probably still be working until 8pm or later. I believe people just open shops until late at night and just take breaks whenever possible.

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The plan now is to rent a car and drive down to Split per the recommendation of Damon. I'm planning to drive over to Bosnia to check that out tomorrow. I only wish I knew how close I was to Budapest, so I could visit. That might have to be for another time, or later in the trip.


Welcoming chance and spontaneity

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Before heading to Europe I decided stop into Chicago to see my good friend Kevin. I've known him since I wad a freshman in college. We always have the best conversations. Today we talked about timing. I asked Kevin if we believes there is such a thing as "a good time for something." he said "no" but "You have to let chance and spontaneity take its course." I will certainly take this to heart: do my thing but be open to what opportunities are in front of me...but be able to recognize that and not miss or pass it up.


Why I booked a one-way to Europe

A few months ago I quit my job that I liked at ExactTarget, to pursue something. What it was, and what it is, I am still seeking. I knew what I wanted to do: design, draw, paint, travel the world, get in adventures and use my skills to make this world a better place. Whether it's helping someone with basic concepts of composition or be there for a friend in need, that is certainly to be determined.

I begin this journey in good spirits: having a caring family, great friends (old and new alike) who inspire me, a loving pet and everything a young man can ask for. I travel to look find what I'm looking for but also to figure out what I'm looking for.

If you ask me the question "why did you book a one-way flight to Europe?" my answer is simple: I don't know, because I could and because I should. One of my favorite quotes is from J.R.R. Tolkein, "not all those who wander are lost." This is it. As Odysseus did, he entrusted the wind of the gods to send him home, and I shall do the same. I first must disappear and get lost to be able to find and re-discover myself, in hopes I return as a better person than I was before.

My travel plan is as simple as this: I don't really know.

All I know so far is I'm going to Croatia to visit a country that I know very little about: that the story goes that the Virgin Mary appeared in Medjuajore, that former NBA star Toni Kucoc is from there, and that for some reason there is a giant bronze statue of Bruce Lee.

After Croatia I am staying at an apartment I'm renting in Paris: blocks away from the Lourve, Notre Dame Cathedral and Apple Store. I assure you the Apple store was not planned.

Here is to the unknown and uncharted waters. I firmly believe there is never a good time to do anything. You can wait for the tides to be perfect and one day realize that you grew old waiting for them to be perfect.

My travel plans are simple: get on the first plane, bring my passport and figure the rest out when I get there. We live in a world with good people who will help one another out. I spent some time with my friends Mary Lou and Shawna to learn French. I will figure it out.

If you want to follow my journey, subscribe to this blog and follow me on Twitter.

David


There's time for everything

Nothing is more annoying than "I wish I had time to do that." Time is such a subjective thing that often dictates us—telling what one can and cannot do. Whether we have a lot or a little of it, one thing is for certain...we don't know how much time left in our lives.

If there is really something you want to do, spend five minutes a day doing it. That is the start of making time for something! Five minutes will turn into hours and days if you really find it worth your time. Don't say you don't have time for it. If you really wanted to learn something, spend time with someone or do something, you would make time. Time needs to not be an excuse anymore.

With a few days before I head for Europe indefinitely, I finally thought "oh sh*t, I should probably learn French." The only French I knew before were from films like Amelie. After one afternoon with my friend Mary Lou, I was able to pick up on the language quickly. I think my background in Latin helped, but it really was just taking a few minutes or an hour in a day to commit to it. I now study a bit of French before I go to bed every night.

A few reasons I don't like time:

  • It makes people feel like they should reach some milestone. Ex: "I should be married by age 20-something because my friends are."
  • It becomes a crutch for excuses. Ex: "I didn't get around to it so I couldn't do it."
  • It causes hesitance and reluctance. Ex: "It's just bad timing."

Tomorrow is no guaranty. Sometimes you cannot wait for the tide to be right to do what you want to do. Sometimes it's best not to think about how long it takes for something to be done, or if it's the right time, but merely just trying it and making time for it.

Your homework is to find something you want to do and spend just five minutes a day doing it. Add five minutes more each day after that. Carpe Diem.